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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

There are a lot of windows out there.

There are a lot of windows out there.

With my new fancy x86 process I went and installed Windows on my MacBook Pro. I was unsure of how I wanted to go about doing this and in the end found a good method.

First my needs: I wanted a system that could run Windows programs alongside OS X and I wanted to be able to boot into the system to play games (Fallout 3). I thought that I would have to make two installs, one through Boot Camp and the other through Parallels. To my fortune I found that Parallels can run a Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine while still allowing a person to boot into it when the need arises. I was set.

The only concern with this is that it sees it as new hardware every time the boot method changes, luckily there is a workaround through Parallels to avoid this.

I created a 32GB FAT32 partition through the Boot Camp assistant for my Windows XP install. The only tricky bit is that when the XP installer asks if you want to format the partition you must say yes. The install failed my first time through.

Booting into the fresh Windows install I used the OS X install DVD to get the drivers and some boot camp software. Those helped as my resolution jumped quite a bit and the trackpad started to work better (though not perfectly). First thing I did was run windows update and install AVG Free Edition. With those completed and running smoothly I switched back to OS X.

Now the moment of truth, I started up Parallels. It instantly recognized the Boot Camp partition and started to convert it to one parallels could use. After what seemed like an hour it was ready and I started the virtual machine up. I installed Parallels Tools just to make things easier. I then booted into Windows to check if it still worked, it did! So back to OS X and the virtual machine, I installed a line of basic (free) software every computer needs:

  • AVG Free Edition – Anti-Virus, fairly non-intrusive and runs well
  • VLC – Video player
  • iTunes – Music player and internet radio
  • Firefox – A web browser to use instead of Internet Explorer
  • Lavasoft Adaware – For removing ad-ware when things start slowing down
  • Flash – To play all of those addictive flash games
  • 7zip – Unarchive .rar, .zip and all of the various archive formats out there
  • ImgBurn – For burning CD’s and DVD’s
  • Dropbox – A good way to keep files synched between computers and OS’s.

With those installed happily I moved on to customizing the Windows install to get away from the blue theme with rolling grassy hills in the background. For this I relied entirely on the Lifehacker article on customization.

I should also mention that my Parallels Virtual Machine settings are:

  • Half the System RAW (2GB)
  • One processor (at 2.8 GHz)
  • Half the dedicated video RAM (256 MB)
  • Assigned to Space 4 (I use a 2 x 2 grid for Spaces)

In the end when I am in OS X this is what my Windows space looks like:

My Parallels window of Windows.

My Parallels window of Windows.

Overall I am very happy with how Windows is running on my new computer. Planescape: Torment runs well in Parallels and Fallout 3 runs superbly in Boot Camp. Eventually I will try some other games and other programs. Until then I will enjoy a smoothly running system.

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I need to start taking new pictures again.

I need to start taking new pictures again.

Readily available information, such as package tracking, is both a blessing and a curse. In my case a curse mostly.

Last week I ordered a new MacBook Pro to replace my Powerbook G4 and also opted to get a free iPod Touch with the order. They shipped a day apart out of China swung around the Pacific to Alaska then made their way to Oakland.

Because the iPod was a day ahead I sort of knew what to expect in terms of times for the MacBook Pro, instead of refreshing once every few hours like I normally would I am refreshing the tracking information every ten minutes around when I think it should be updated.

I received my iPod yesterday and my MacBook Pro arrived in Oakland last night. I held up hope that it could make it onto a delivery truck this morning, yet that is not the case. The curse of this wealth of information is that while I can find the exact minute a package leaves a location the site with the information listed is only updated once, perhaps twice a day.

Now I must wait another day for my laptop to arrive, even though it left only a day after the iPod it must have encountered some harsher customs in Alaska or had a higher wind resistance due to its size.

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Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

At first I was going to write about how I thought that putting textbooks on the Kindle was a bad idea, then while writing I realized that I was wrong.

Wrong in the sense that from my point of view (a physics student) I need physical textbooks so the Kindle did not work for me, however by the sound of it it would work really well for a lot of other majors.

Thinking to my general education classes such as history or comparative literature it would have been easier to throw the multitude of fifty dollar textbooks onto a Kindle to carry to class instead of hauling around the glossy pages. The same goes for art history courses, geography and film studies. Those books are just flat out heavy and unneeded once the course is over.

Some classes cannot be fully transfered to a device like the Kindle. Any language class needs workbooks, upper division science books (for the most part) would serve better in paper format and quick reference books like tables of integrals.

One reason I would really like a Kindle (or would have early on) is so I can store all of the homework assignments, solutions and online lecture notes together in one place. Reading PDFs off the screen is not very pleasant, having them together would really facilitate studying and homework. Especially when you put all of the lecture notes from all of your major classes onto the device.

That would be pretty sweet.

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Twitter

Twitter did not have a heavy cost of entry like some experiments.

Twitter did not have a heavy cost of entry like some experiments.

So I tried Twitter. I gave it an honest shot.

It just did not work for me. I guess I did not have a critical mass of friends or people I know using it.

I guess I will just add to the statistics then.

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An HDR of the Goleta Dock from beneath.

An HDR of the Goleta Dock from beneath.

I found this site that gives a package of geektool scripts, one of them is a better uptime command then what I had before:

Old: uptime | awk ‘{print “UPTIME : ” $3 ” “$4″ ” $5 “”}’

New: uptime | awk ‘{print “Uptime : ” $3 ” ” $4 ” ” $5 }’ | sed -e ‘s/.$//g’

I run them with a refresh of 240.

On this site there is also some dark grey sidebar images to use as a platform for various commands. It shows several possible configurations of the command set. I like this sites current IP command but I don’t move networks often enough to warrant its use.

For some of the scripts to work they need to be edited for local ZIP code and for one your GMail password.

I just need to find a Geektool script that shows current network activity.

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Not a great photo but you can see the rows of cell phones beneath the stage

Not a great photo but you can see the rows of cell phones beneath the stage

A phenomena that I have noticed at any college music event is the technological replacement of lighters. In the past (at least based iconographic images and the media) music concerts entailed many of the audience members holding up lighters and waving then slightly to the music.

Now cell phones have taken on that role. There is now a sea of blue screens held aloft by enthusiastic fans; oddly I believe that the band cannot actually see this due to all the screen facing backwards. I am sure most are taking pictures but the effect is the same.

Another potential reason for the replacement is the decline in smoking in the student body. Not many people smoke (cigarettes), I know two people who do, so there is not the prevalence of lighters. Also there would be the safety restrictions on any open flames near any large crowd of people. In fact my friend informs me that they were spraying/splashing water on the crowds to put out a fire of some sort (likely caused by a certain leaf based narcotic).

Overall I like the effect of the sea of cellphones, if I was photographing an event it would add a nice visual element to underline the main performance. The tick of course is to be about one or two feet higher then the crowd so that the sea is compressed into the same horizontal line.

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The Twitter

Even in a jumble Hulk still smash.

Even in a jumble Hulk still smash.

I finally made the jump, or at least the step: I have started a twitter account.

I have been planning on doing it for a while but never had the impetus to take the step and actually go to the twitter site. Then I received an e-mail from twitter saying that I have been invited to join, by my Mother no less.

Not to be one who is passed technologically by a relative I started an account and have now begun tweeting (twittering? Sounds like a bad side effect).

You can check me out at twitter.com/michutch42

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Any facebook change causes a small emergency.

Any facebook change causes a small emergency.

A few weeks ago Facebook changed its main layout page to focus more on status updates and shared content over the previous iteration.

Of course previous changed created an outrage about “stalkerbook” and this one received similar protest, except I think they will he changing it soon in response.

Oddly though I like the current homepage and if they do change it I may consider starting to use Twitter and del.ico.us instead of whatever Facebook changes too.

Then again I don’t know if I want to spread out so much or if I want to dedicate the time to setting that up. Probably myself and many others will just passively accept any changes (except terms of service regarding original posted works) they made to the layout.

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Radar Headphones

Danger!

Danger!

My Bose headphones occasionally pick up interference from microwave or near microwave sources. I am guessing microwave as they react to cell phones occasionally. I have experienced this with other types and models of speakers both computer and car so I not it is not specific to my headphones.

With that said, I was sitting in LAX setting up camp near a power outlet as I waited for an airplane when I got a tick in my headphones. I thought it might be from the video I was watching so I stopped it.

Nope still there. Unplugged from my computer and the tick remained. It was fairly regular and as I started to move noticed it was highly directional. I changed seats which barely did anything.

Near that point I realized what it was: the airport radar. I moved behind a concrete wall and get rid of the sound to the point where I could not notice it.

Never thought that my headphones could pick up radar.

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Oddly all of the vendors sold coca-cola.

Oddly all of the vendors sold coca-cola.

When on the Boston subway I saw something that I thought was a very clever marketing technique. It was not the blanketing of a station with ads like the photo above, rather it was a short movie clip painted onto the subway wall.

Normally in subway trains the walls between stations are black or mildly lit (assuming an underground station). On one of the lines in Boston an advertising company put up series of posters under lights at just the right spacing to create (as seen from the train) a short movie.

The technology behind it is not radical but I appreciated the deployment and the novelty made me remember their ad (a short clip for the movie Coraline). At the moment it seems like a good place for advertisements, thought I say this before all the walls are plastered with commercials. Fortunately there is no sound. Yet.

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